February 13, 2024
JAKARTA – A 117-minute documentary film titled Dirty Vote accusing President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his administration of partisanship in the lead-up to the general election has gained widespread attention and sparked controversy just ahead of voting day on Wednesday.
Directed by activist and filmmaker Dandhy Dwi Laksono, the movie alleges that Jokowi has been using state resources to swing the presidential election in favor of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who is Jokowi’s eldest son.
Three constitutional law experts featured in the movie – Zainal Arifin Mochtar, Bivitri Susanti and Feri Amsari – said Jokowi had appointed his close aides as interim regional leaders in key provinces through a hazy selection process.
They accused his administration of disregarding the Constitutional Court’s order for the government to issue guidelines that would ensure the selection process was transparent and compliant with democratic principles.
Some of these interim leaders have been accused of tacitly backing Prabowo and Gibran while hampering the campaign activities of their rivals, despite a regulation that requires public officials to remain neutral in the election.
The issue with state partisanship did not stop at interim regional leaders, according to the film. Zainal, Bivitri and Feri also alleged that many of Jokowi’s ministers had been supporting the Prabowo-Gibran ticket during their work trips and had been using the social media platforms of their ministries to declare their support for the pair.
The documentary also highlighted the ethics scandal surrounding last year’s controversial Constitutional Court ruling on presidential candidate eligibility requirements, a decision that paved the way for Gibran to run for vice president.
The documentary also questioned the impartiality of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu). It highlighted the fact that Juri Ardiantoro, a member of Jokowi’s campaign team for the 2019 election and a current member of the Prabowo-Gibran camp, chaired the panel that shortlisted candidates for Bawaslu commissioner in 2022.
Less than 24 hours after the documentary was uploaded on YouTube, it had garnered more than 5 million views. It also became a trending topic on X, formerly known as Twitter, with more than 600,000 posts discussing it.
A number of social media users thanked the filmmakers for their bravery in highlighting the issues.
Prabowo-Gibran campaign team member Habiburokhman said Dirty Vote contained mostly “baseless rumors” and slander and claimed the filmmakers wanted to undermine the legitimacy of the elections.
“In a democratic country, everyone is free to express their opinion, but we need to make one thing clear: most of the movie’s content is slander,” he said on Sunday, kompas.com reported.
Hasto Kristiyanto of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which is backing presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo, said the film reflected “the struggle” that Ganjar and the party faced in the race.
“We never expected that President Jokowi would put power above everything else,” Hasto said in a statement.
Presidential candidate Anies Baswedan, meanwhile, called on authorities “to stop committing election fraud” and to fulfill citizens’ wishes for a fair, accountable election.
Vice President Ma’ruf Amin said the movie was “part of the political dynamics” and contained “well-intentioned” criticism that authorities would have to respond properly to.
Presidential special staff coordinator Ari Dwipayana was not immediately available for comment.
Jokowi has not explicitly endorsed any ticket so far, although he maintains that he has a right to support a candidate of his choosing in his free time.
Political Analyst Yoes Kenawas said that while the movie created quite a lot of buzz online, it would not significantly impact Prabowo’s chances in the race.
The defense minister is ahead in the two latest opinion polls, while Anies and Ganjar are neck and neck for second place.
“With only three days before the election, most voters have already made up their minds,” Yoes said.